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Newsonomics: What was once unthinkable is quickly becoming reality in the destruction of local news
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May 2, 2019, 11:28 a.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: engagedjournalism.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Christine Schmidt   |   May 2, 2019

In hot pursuit of reader revenue, news organizations might forget that readers are made of more than their wallets. They can record the audio version of your newsletter, install a browser extension to track ads, translate journalism into other languages, proofread and backedit, and much much more.

The first step to getting that help? Asking the users if (and how) they could help.

Maldita.es, a nonprofit fact-checking organization in Spain, set up just 10 questions in a survey that ended up getting 2,500 people to offer up their skills, as the Engaged Journalism Accelerator’s new case study details. (The accelerator has provided funding to Maldita, as well as several other European news organizations, to build out their membership practices.)

From the case study:

How did they do it?

  1. The survey sought to gather data on what users thought about Maldita.es, how they found out about it, which projects they knew about and the skills they were prepared to contribute to the organisation. The team dubbed these skills ‘superpowers’.
  2. Clara Jiménez Cruz, co-founder of Maldita.es, put together 10 questions including ‘did you know Maldita.es is an independent media and a not-for-profit?’ and ‘if you had to define Maldita.es in a tweet or phrase to explain it to a friend, how would you do it?’
  3. She wanted to make it fun to fill in so she used simple, playful language and included emojis, a picture of Homer Simpson wearing a Maldita.es t-shirt and an explanation of why engaging the community was important.
  4. The survey included some light-hearted asks, for example, whether anyone in the community was able to fix the door of the organisation’s offices in Madrid, which had been off its hinges for some time (spoiler: someone came forward to fix the door).
  5. Those who filled in the survey were invited to a party to meet the Maldita team and other malditos.

More than 2,600 responses came through in only four days, and 30 percent were from people who hadn’t engaged with Maldita before. The team decided to focus the response fields on short answers vs. drop-down menus, since — of course — “everyone defines their superpower in a different way.”

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